Finnish startup Jolla has announced its first smartphone, which debuts its Sailfish OS on a 4.5-inch screen. The device integrates the company’s unique back covers with the software, allowing the look to change and new features to be added.
Jolla, which was founded by former Nokia employees who wanted to continue the development work the Finnish phone maker had done on the MeeGo OS, is with the introduction one big step closer to entering the ultra-competitive smartphone market.
“The earliest memories I have of things really crystalizing is from the summer of 2011. I was on holiday and there was a conference call I took on the beach, and the people that became Jolla, the founders and many of the early contributors were on that call. But to me the hard work really started in January 2012,” said Marc Dillon, who recently stepped down as the company’s CEO to focus on developing the first phone.
The LTE-smartphone — which is just called Jolla, for now — is powered by a dual-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera. It also has 16GB of integrated storage which can be expanded using an SD card.
The smartphone has been designed to look like two thin slabs that have been bonded together, and users can change the color of the back one with different snap-on covers. The back cover isn’t just about the hardware design. It is integrated with the OS and can be used to add features and change the look, a concept Jolla calls “the other half.”
“This is one of the most powerful things we have … a very simple example could be that you have covers with different colors,” Dillon said. “So you change the back of the device to a red one in the evening and a black one for the office and that would also change the user interface because there is a connection there.”
The cover could also have more memory for extra content that could be used by artists to put out limited edition phones, according to Dillon.
The company’s core offering is the Sailfish operating system, which Jolla hopes will lure users away from competing platforms. To help boost the availability of apps, the OS will be able to run Android applications.
The heart of the OS consists of thumbnails of opened applications on the homescreen from which users also can access multiple features directly by scrolling from side-to-side or just clicking on them to access the main feature.
“The true multitasking is working in lots of different applications. You can have a video running in a thumbnail while you are doing something else on the device,” Dillon said.
The Jolla will start shipping during the fourth quarter and cost a!399 (US$510) including taxes in the EU. It can be preordered on Jolla’s website.
DAS (distributed antenna systems) using coaxial cable have been the main solution to the problem, but they now face some limitations. To address them, Corning will introduce a DAS at this week’s CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas that uses fiber instead of coax all the way from the remote cell antennas to the base station in the heart of a building.
Cable-based DAS hasn’t kept up with the new world, according to the optical networking vendor. Though Corning is associated more often with clear glass than with thin air, it entered the indoor wireless business in 2011 by buying DAS maker MobileAccess. That’s because Corning thinks optical fiber is the key to bringing more mobile capacity and coverage inside.
The system, called Corning Optical Network Evolution (ONE) Wireless Platform, can take the place of a DAS based fully or partly on coaxial cable, according to Bill Cune, vice president of strategy for Corning MobileAccess. Corning ONE will let mobile carriers, enterprises or building owners set up a neutral-host DAS for multiple carriers using many different frequencies.
Though small cells are starting to take its place in some buildings, DAS still has advantages over the newer technology, according to analyst Peter Jarich of Current Analysis. It can be easier to upgrade because only the antennas are distributed, so more of the changes can be carried out on centralized gear. Also, small cells are typically deployed by one mobile operator, and serving customers of other carriers has to be done through roaming agreements, he said.
Corning ONE links each antenna to the base station over optical fiber, converting the radio signals to optical wavelengths until they reach the base station. Fiber has more capacity than coax, can handle higher frequencies, and requires just one cable from a MIMO antenna, Cune said. Because of fiber’s high capacity, it’s relatively easy to bring other mobile operators onto the DAS.
The system is based on optical fiber, but it can be extended over standard Ethernet wiring to provide backhaul for Wi-Fi access points. Each Corning ONE remote antenna unit that’s deployed around a building will have two Ethernet ports to hook up nearby Wi-Fi access points, which can use the fiber infrastructure for data transport to wired LAN equipment, Cune said.
In addition to the GK110 based Nvidia Geforce GTX 780, we managed to get some details regarding the GK104-based GTX 770 as well. Scheduled to be officially launched a week after the GTX 780, on May 30th, the GTX 770 will aim a similar price point as the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition but will end up to be at least a bit faster.
As noted and rumored earlier, the GTX 770 will be a simple rebrand of the GTX 680, but with slightly higher clocks. It features 1536 CUDA cores and runs at 1046MHz base GPU clock. It also feature Nvidia GPU Boost 2.0 that will take the GPU up to 1085MHz when possible. It will be available with both 2GB and 4GB of memory, clocked at a pretty impressive 7000MHz and paired up with a 256-bit memory interface.
As it is based on a version of the GK104 chip it is no wonder that it needs 6+8-pin PCI-Express power connectors and has a 230W TDP. It will also feature two DL-DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. Judging by earlier leaks, pictures and some information that we saw, it will also use a reference cooler similar or same as the one on the GTX Titan. This means that the card will be significantly quieter.
Judging by the slides, it should end up anywhere between 10 and 20 percent faster than the HD 7970 GHz Edition and in some cases, like Tomb Raider, Crysis 3 and Max Payne 3, on par or just a tad bit faster.
Of course, we will not talk about the price as Nvidia can easily change it a day before the launch, but it is expected to be somewhere around the HD 7970 GHz Edition, or $450+ range.
Dell’s profit for the quarter, ended May 3, was $130 million, down 79 percent from $635 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue declined 2 percent to $14.07 billion.
Dell’s PC division was particularly hard hit. Sales for the quarter were down 9 percent to $8.9 billion, Dell said, and the group’s operating profit skidded 65 percent lower to $224 million. Laptop sales were hit especially hard.
Its enterprise business showed mixed performance. Sales of servers and network gear were up 14 percent but storage was down 10 percent. Dell’s services division reported a 2 percent increase in revenue.
Dell is trying hard to build an enterprise software business, which it hopes will eventually generate higher profits than its PC division. The software group reported an operating loss for the quarter, however, as Dell invested in new sales and R&D staff.
Dell’s earnings for the quarter on a pro forma basis, which excludes one-time items, were $0.21 a share, well off the analyst forecast of $0.35 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.
In a statement, CFO Brian Gladden said Dell’s profits were affected by steps it took to improve its competitiveness. “We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability,” he said.
Michael Dell announced in February that he planned to take the company private in a deal with Silver Lake Partners valued at $24.4 billion. The company founder has said he wants some breathing room to focus on long term investments without the constant scrutiny from Wall Street.
Google also announced several APIs that will let developers add more capabilities to their Android apps, including in the areas of location and improving battery life.
“It’s been an amazing year for Android developers,” said Android and Chrome vice president Sundar Pichai.
Google has sent more money to developers through their Play Store sales in the last four months than it did in all of 2012 and revenue per user is now 2.5 times higher than it was a year ago, the company said.
Showing a map of the world where Android penetration is less than 10 percent — which encompassed most of the world outside North America and Europe — Pichai said Google’s next focus is “bringing the next 4.5 billion online.”
To date, Google has seen more than 48 billion Android application installs, and 2.5 billion in the last four months alone, said Hugo Barra, vice president and product manager of Android.
Google announced an update to Google Play Services, a layer of software managed by Google on top of Android, which includes APIs for Google services like Google Maps and Google Now.
Google Play Services is updated independently of Android, to give developers access to the latest Google APIs, helping to solve the Android fragmentation problem.
Google launched new location APIs as part of Google Play Services. The first, Fused Location Provider, includes a low-power location mode that should extend battery life by using less than 1 percent of battery per hour, Barra said.
The second, Geofencing, let’s developers define “virtual fences” around geographic areas that are triggered when a user enters and leaves those areas. “This has been a big ask from you guys,” Barra told the developer audience, who cheered the news.
The last is Activity Recognition, which uses accelerometer data and machine learning to figure out when the user is doing things like walking, driving or cycling.
Google Inc unveiled a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google’s “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
At the conference, Google also unveiled improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android operating system.
Google’s shares jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
The entry of the world’s largest Internet company amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
Music has been integral to the mobile experience since the early days of iTunes, which upended the old models with its 99-cent-per-song buying approach.
Now, as smartphones and tablets supplant PCs and virtual storage replaces songs on devices, mobile players from handset makers to social networks realize they must stake out a place or risk ceding control of one of the largest components of mobile device usage.
At $9.99 a month, Google’s service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
Google executives said their new service takes the work out of managing massive music libraries, noting the streaming model can be endlessly customized.
ARM’s notable success in smartphones and tablets can obscure the fact that most of the chips using its designs are microcontrollers for using the input of sensors. The firm has announced collaboration with Logmein to push its Mbed project with developers that sign up to the Xively Cloud service.
ARM’s Mbed project aims to bring a standard workflow to hardware design in order to help more firms to make better use of the microcontroller technology that already exists. Simon Ford, director of Online Tools at ARM told The INQUIRER that the MBed project is intended to help hardware designers turn microcontrollers into final products.
Logmein and ARM worked on the Xively cloud based rapid prototyping service to offer hardware developers a way to speed up and lower the cost of the development lifecycle. Those developers who sign up for the service will also get a Xively Jumpstart Kit that includes an ARM Mbed prototype module to get started.
Ford said, “You’re trying to build a product, the intelligence you want embedded is critical but it isn’t the only problem you have. If you are trying to make a product, you have a whole raft a problems. [...] We are expanding the Mbed project to look at how do you have an industrial grade platform that is open, free to use and that removes barriers for someone that has this idea to proving a concept all the way to production.”
While ARM and Logmein promote the service as a way to build the much hyped internet of things, it can be used to develop any hardware that makes use of ARM’s extensive range of microcontrollers. With Logmein’s Xively cloud service, the firms are hoping to enable developers to cut the costs associated with hardware design, enabling smaller firms to get into the market.
The firm is in its ascendancy, and is blowing the ink dry on a deal with Disney and getting ready to show the much anticipated Arrested Development Series Four.
While Lovefilm told us that it does not provide subtitles on the films and TV shows it provides, Netflix, its main rival, has improved the subtitles feature on the PS3, making it easier for the hard of hearing to make their selection.
“The first thing you will notice an updated design that is more consistent with the Netflix player on the Web as well as our mobile and tablet applications,” said Chris Jaffe, director of product innovation at Netflix.
“The key feature in this update is the ability to easily manage your audio and subtitles selections. You can now do that directly in the player on the PS3, without having to return to the browse experience.”
The PS3 app now has the same audio and subtitles feature as the Xbox version. It’s going to prove handy for the hard of hearing, and Jaffe said that users will be able to select the Audio and Subtitles settings while they’re watching a movie. PS3 Blu-ray remote control users can just press the Subtitles button.
This is 2013 and nothing happens without someone adding something “social” to it. This update to the Netflix PS3 app also makes sharing whatever title you are watching easier.
There are some playback improvements including “trickplay” mode – a fast-forward or rewind option, and a 10 second skip back button.
“The updated Netflix player experience is available now on PS3 and will be coming soon to select Smart TVs and Blu-ray players,” said Jaffe.
Analysts regarded the move — announced today at BlackBerry Live — as mostly positive, since it could help an improving BlackBerry expand its reach beyond its own new Z10 and Q10 smartphone customers.
Today, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) customers, a tiny fraction of the number of messages sent via Facebook or Twitter. But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said BBM users are very active, sending 10 billion messages a day, and half the messages received are read within 20 seconds.
Opening up BBM to iOS 6 devices and above and Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices and above will expand BBM’s reach, Heins said.
“BBM is so great that it’s too good to keep only to ourselves,”Heins said during an upbeat keynote presentation at the event, which is mainly for BlackBerry developers and partners. “Why now? It’s a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it’s time that BBM become multi-platform.”
BBM’s interoperability with Android and iOS is now in beta, and will launch commercially this summer, Heins said. At first, only text messaging will be available to individuals and groups on other platforms. Features already available in BlackBerry 10 on BBM such as voice and video and screen sharing will be added later this year, with updates every two to four weeks.
On Tuesday, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA joined the “It Can Wait” campaign that AT&T began last year. Next Monday, the campaign will kick off TV, radio and online ads warning consumers about the dangers of texting and driving, and a driving simulator will tour the country to demonstrate how dangerous the practice can be.
Recent studies have raised concerns over the growth of texting while driving and its dangers, especially for teenagers. Almost 43 percent of high school students of driving age had texted while driving in the past month, according to a recent survey by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
The co-branded summer campaign, scheduled to run through Labor Day on Sept. 3, was timed for what the carriers called the most dangerous season for teen driving. It will also include messages in Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Radio Shack stores as well as the carriers’ retail shops.
More than 200 organizations are also joining in the campaign. On Sept. 19, just as they did last year, backers of the program will ask consumers to take a pledge not to text while driving.
“They are doing the right thing,” said mobile analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. “I don’t think anybody, including the carriers, wants people texting while they’re driving.”
At the same time, the carriers may also be trying to head off further regulation of mobile use in cars. Texting while driving is illegal in many states, as is talking on a phone without a hands-free system. However, regulation might someday go further to outlaw mobile use even with hands-free systems, he said. Carriers may also fear being named in lawsuits over texting-related accidents, so they’re taking strong steps to warn against it, Gold said.
nVidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang mentioned a concrete reason of Tegra 4 delays during the company’s latest earnings call.
The chip was announced back in January, but Jensen told the investors that Tegra 4 was delayed because of Nvidia’s decision to pull in Grey aka Tegra 4i in for six months. Pulling Tegra 4i in and having it scheduled for Q4 2013 was, claims Jensen, the reason for the three-month delay in Tegra 4 production. On the other hand, we heard that early versions of Tegra 4 were simply getting too hot and frankly we don’t see why Nvidia would delay its flagship SoC for tactical reasons.
Engaging the LTE market as soon as possible has been the main reason for pulling Tegra 4i, claims Jensen. It looks to us that Tegra 4 will be more than three months delayed but we have been promised to see Tegra 4 based devices in Q2 2013, or by the end of June 2013.
Nvidia claims Tegra 4i has many design wins and it should be a very popular chip. Nvidia expects to have partners announcing their devices based on this new LTE based chip in early 2014. Some of them might showcase some devices as early as January, but we would be surprised if we don’t see Tegra 4i devices at the Mobile World Congress next year, that kicks off on February 24th 2014.
Jensen described Tegra 4i as an incredibly well positioned product, saying that “it brings a level of capabilities and features of performance that that segment has just never seen”. The latter half of 2013 will definitely be interesting for Nvidia’s Tegra division and we are looking forward to see the first designs based on this new chip.
Google said it is expanding the amount of free storage for users of its cloud storage service Google Drive. Google Drive on Monday announced it’s increasing the amount of free storage it offers subscribers from 10GB for Gmail and another 5GB for Drive and Google+ Photos.
Combined, Google subscribers will get a net total of 15GB of free unified storage and will be able to share all the additional data among the Drive cloud storage service, Gmail and Google+ Photos.
Clay Bavor, director of product management at Google Drive, wrote in a blog that with the new combined storage space, “you won’t have to worry about how much you’re storing and where.
“For example, maybe you’re a heavy Gmail user but light on photos, or perhaps you were bumping up against your Drive storage limit but were only using 2 GB in Gmail. Now it doesn’t matter, because you can use your storage the way you want,” he wrote.
Google has been increasing its competitive pressure on other cloud storage providers since launching its Drive service last year.
Among Google Drive’s competitors is Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud, but the companies most threatened by Google’s move into online storage are smaller specialized service providers, such as DropBox, Box, SugarSync and YouSendIt, according to analysts.
Dropbox offers 2GB for free, and its first paid upgrade option is to 50GB for $9.99 a month or $99 per year.
“[Average consumers] don’t have much of a relationship with these smaller [cloud] companies,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said at the time of Google Drive’s launch. “The challenge for these smaller companies is reaching out to consumers or shifting to somewhat of a different market; the problem is that Google also wants the business market, the small business market and ultimately the enterprise IT market.”
The improvements include a new “all photos” view that displays thumbnails of all the pictures, organized in a monthly timeline grid.
Microsoft also tweaked both the SkyDrive desktop app and its server counterpart to increase upload speeds, achieving a 2X to 3X improvement, according to the company.
In addition, Microsoft said it has improved “the readability” of files and folders stored in the service, remaking the thumbnail format for PowerPoint and Word files to make it easier to identify and find them.
Photos are the most common files stored in SkyDrive “both in sheer number and in total storage consumed,” Omar Shahine, group program manager of SkyDrive.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
It will take about 48 hours for the changes to be applied to all SkyDrive accounts.
SkyDrive rival Dropbox has also been testing new photo storage, sharing and management features, including the ability to organize photos in albums and to share more than one photo or a folder at a time.
Google Drive, another SkyDrive competitor, also has specific features for managing photo files.
The app, which takes the place of the home screen on supported devices, puts Facebook much more at the center of the phone. Rather than an app launch or home screen appearing when a phone is woken from sleep, the user sees the Facebook Home screen and pictures and updates from their friends.
“That’s very much in line with our expectations for the launch,” said Cory Ondrejka, director of mobile engineering at Facebook, during a briefing for reporters. “We thought that was a large enough number to start getting data.”
The users are typically early adopters who have specifically searched the Android Play Store to find the app, said the company. Facebook isn’t currently using its main app to promote Home, but word has spread via the social network.
Putting Facebook updates in front of users has led to a 25 percent increase in the amount of time they spend using Facebook, Ondrejka said.
“Facebook is already the most-used app on mobile devices, so being able to bump that is something we are very excited about,” he said.
A new version of Facebook Home will launch Thursday, along with the latest version of the Facebook app.
The latest version of the software addresses bugs, but Facebook is working on subsequent versions that will address feedback and complaints from those first million users. They include a new way to launch non-Facebook apps and an easier way to initiate chats.
The complaints about the app launcher were mostly related to the way it reorganized apps. If users had spent time organizing and curating their home screen, the Home app changed that.
“Any launcher that juggled apps would get this feedback,” said Ondrejka. “Since I’ve spent time curating my apps, I don’t want Facebook to move them around.”
A new version of the app launcher, shown on Thursday but due in a future update, looks much more like the traditional Android home screen.
It appears that the Ouya is going to be a bit delayed.
This is good news though, as it is being delayed because the console developers have more cash to spend on it, $15m more to be precise.
Ouya already raised around $7m on Kickstarter, and now, when it should be taking its last steps towards completion, it has had almost twice as much more injected into it by lovely venture capitalists.
We were expecting the console in early June, but that has slid back to 25 June. The time and money will in part be used to solve an issue with sticky buttons, something that usually only happens once consumers have taken some hardware home with them.
The money comes from venture capital firms and other companies including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Nvidia, Shasta Ventures, and Occam Partners. KPCB’s general partner Bing Gordon will join the Ouya board of directors as a result.
“We want Ouya to be here for a long time to come,” said Julie Uhrman, Ouya founder and CEO.
“The message is clear: people want Ouya. We first heard this from Kickstarter backers who provided more than $8 million to help us build Ouya, then from over 12,000 developers who have registered to make an Ouya game, next from retailers who are carrying Ouya online and soon on store shelves, and now from top pioneering investors.”
Gordon is in charge of digital investments at KPCB and is a veteran of the games industry, having started at Electronic Arts in 1982.
“Ouya’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike,” he said.
“There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and Ouya is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. Ouya will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.”
Ouya consoles should start arriving in living rooms on 25 June. If you want one, you are going to have to come up with around $100 dollars, plus another $50 dollars if you want two controllers.